Riverview Beach Park

Jim:

I decided to create a new thread about Riverview Beach Park. The park's origins can be traced to the Silver Grove Hotel, which the Acton family operated on the grounds in Pennsville from 1883 until 1913. In the latter year, the family formed the Riverview Land Company and the following year, the corporation held the Grand Opening of Riverview Beach, complete with band concerts, fireworks, a three-abreast carousel, and an Ocean Wave ride. The Riverview Land Company continuing operating Riverview Beach until 1921, when the name changed to Riverview Beach Park. The park offered an unparalleled experience for its many patrons, whether they arrived by river steamer, trolley, or train. The park closed permanently in 1969 and, today, Pennsville operates a passive city park there.

I will try to scan a few images for you tomorrow and put them up for your viewing pleasure.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
Oct 25, 2006
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Jim:

I decided to create a new thread about Riverview Beach Park. The park's origins can be traced to the Silver Grove Hotel, which the Acton family operated on the grounds in Pennsville from 1883 until 1913. In the latter year, the family formed the Riverview Land Company and the following year, the corporation held the Grand Opening of Riverview Beach, complete with band concerts, fireworks, a three-abreast carousel, and an Ocean Wave ride. The Riverview Land Company continuing operating Riverview Beach until 1921, when the name changed to Riverview Beach Park. The park offered an unparalleled experience for its many patrons, whether they arrived by river steamer, trolley, or train. The park closed permanently in 1969 and, today, Pennsville operates a passive city park there.

I will try to scan a few images for you tomorrow and put them up for your viewing pleasure.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
Thanks Jerseyman, i cannot wait to see to see those photos, many an outing was spent there in my youth with my mom, dad, and older sisters. The Shady Rest Inn, which was mentioned by Sue by bringing up the thread about Flo's, and you by stating it's prior name, is bringing back to me many of fond cherished memories during my youth.


Thanks Jim
 
Oct 25, 2006
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Jim:

Here are a couple of images for you—one showing the park's miniature railroad and the other showing the Wilson Line steamer State of Pennsylvania:



If I have time I will post more later.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
Thank you Jerseyman, they are well appreciated.


Jim
 
Oct 25, 2006
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Thanks you also for posting them relayer, the design of the roller coaster looks like the one i seen from pics of the amusement park on deserted tick infested Burlington Island, i wonder if they were designed and built by the same outfit.

Thanks Jim
Jim:

No, the rollercoaster on Burlington Island was an earlier design. The park there called it the Greyhound. The scenic railway at Riverview, while also wood, featured more level track and less undulations.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

Teegate

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Thanks for the photo's Jerseyman, and the links relayer.

Guy
 

Furball1

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Dec 11, 2005
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Another "Amusement Park"?

Your posts are always informative, Jerseyman. I enjoy them alot. In fact, your post here has stimulated some brain-cells on vacation, so here goes. When I was a kid I recall stories from a friend about some woods adjoining the (Deptford/Westville?) Texaco refinery on Rt. 130, I believe north of the refinery. Here he and his dad would fined arrowheads (he had quite a collection, mind-boggling) and his dad had a metal detector and would find old coins. He claimed there was an amusement park there many years ago, years since dismantled. Do you know anything about this park? I look forward to your response!---David
 

Furball1

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Dec 11, 2005
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Yes!

Yes, I remember now, someone once told me it was called Washington Park--I completely forgot! Thanks! I look forward to Jerseyman's input too!
 

Furball1

Explorer
Dec 11, 2005
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Trolley

The amusement park website is great! When I saw the trolley, I immediately recalled that my friend's dad had found trolley tokens, I believe they had holes in the center with the name of the park encircling the hole. Being a kid of 10 in '64, I just could not envision an amusement park back in there--little did I realize it had been long gone for 50 years!
 
Your posts are always informative, Jerseyman. I enjoy them alot. In fact, your post here has stimulated some brain-cells on vacation, so here goes. When I was a kid I recall stories from a friend about some woods adjoining the (Deptford/Westville?) Texaco refinery on Rt. 130, I believe north of the refinery. Here he and his dad would fined arrowheads (he had quite a collection, mind-boggling) and his dad had a metal detector and would find old coins. He claimed there was an amusement park there many years ago, years since dismantled. Do you know anything about this park? I look forward to your response!---David
Thanx for the kind words, Furball. You are requesting information on Billy Thompson's Washington Park on the Delaware, which served as the Queen of all Delaware River amusement parks from its Grand Opening on Memorial Day 1895 until it closed for good in 1911 after enduring two conflagrations—the second one all but destroying the park. Please see the story below:

William J. Thompson, aka Billy Thompson, aka "the Duke of Gloucester," was an Irish-Catholic entrepreneur and politico who established Gloucester City as the "poor man's Cape May." Beginning in the 1870s, Thompson and his cronies turned the city's waterfront area into a major blue-collar resort area. On the weekends, Thompson's Gloucester ferryboats would be mobbed with Philadelphians seeking relief from the so-called "blue laws." Gambling parlors, saloons, beer gardens, brothels and all types of amusements became available on Gloucester's waterfront. On some days, the population of the city swelled by 50,000 or more.

In 1887, Thompson purchased additional ground and erected a baseball park to allow the Philadelphia Athletics to play on Sundays. The A's planyed major league games at this park until 1891. He also built the Gloucester Racetrack and even held races on Sundays. He garnered much negative press over this activity. Thompson became so powerful that his minions elected him as a New Jersey state senator and he held sway over the so-called "jockey legislature." It took the reform movement, given birth in women's clubs around the state, to unseat Thompson.

Thompson also incorporated and constructed the Camden, Gloucester & Woodbury Railway, a pioneer trolley line built in the early part of the 1890s. The impetus for this line's raison d'etre was the inability of Thompson's Gloucester ferryboats to handle the press of crowd coming from Philadelphia. He created a trolley line that originated at the Kaighn's Point ferry in Camden, allowing many more would-be visitors to enter the Valhalla of sin and amusement.

Thompson's crowning achievement, and the one that he is best remembered for, was the construction of Washington Park on the Delaware. This amusement park was located just over Big Timber Creek in West Deptford Township, Gloucester County. A grander amusement park never existed on the river before or since. Thompson had to have the biggest and best of everything—the largest Ferris wheel, 100 feet in diameter; the tallest water slide; the wildest scenic railway; and the longest pier along the river. If you arrived by steamboat, you had three choices to travel from the pier into the park: you could walk; you could climb aboard the cars of the scenic railway; or ride a trolley on a spur from the tracks of the Camden, Gloucester & Woodbury. The park burned in 1905; Thompson rebuilt, severely straining his finances and his health. In 1911, a second fire all but destroyed the entertainment center. Thompson was too sick and too bankrupt to rebuild a second time and his business colleagues razed the park.

Soon thereafter, the Joseph Campbell Company, forerunner of the Campbell Soup Company, purchased the land to use as an experimental farm, but the firm never completed their plans. When America entered World War I, the United States government leased the large parcel and retained a company to construct and operate the Woodbury Bagloading Plant, a facility that employed many women in filling powder bags with the necessary explosive pellets. Following the end of the First World War, the land again lay fallow until the Texas Oil Company—Texaco—leased or purchased a portion of the land in 1948 from Campbell to build its first eastern refinery outside of the Lone Star State. Today Sun Oil or Sunoco operates this refinery.

Washington Park on the Delaware occupied land primarily north of the main refinery property, although a portion of it extended onto the oil facility property. If I have the opportunity tomorrow, I will scan and post a few images of the park.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
That electric fountain must have been way, way ahead of its time. I'll bet that would be neat resurrected from the ashes.
You're right, Bob. Billy Thompson had a great fascination with electricity and the possibilities it provided. He pioneered electric trolleys in the South Jersey area and began construction of a high-speed all electric route to Atlantic City. He never completed the line, but he spurred the West Jersey & Seashore Railroad to build its own electric route.

BTW, I think Thompson may have created the first opportunity to play a major league baseball game under electric lights when he install lighting in his ball park on the Gloucester waterfront and the A's played a night game. Later, a Wild West show came to town and, again, put on some night shows.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
Washington Park on the Delaware

Folks:

Here are some additional images from my collection to supplement those available on the websites referenced:



This post card shows the gravity road or roller coaster where it begins out on the 1,800-foot pier.



A nice color view of the giant Ferris Wheel.



The Shoot-the-Chutes ride—an early form of modern Log Flume rides.



If you did not arrive at the park on a steamer, you could take the trolley from Camden or Gloucester.



After a fire destroyed the park, the government used the land during World War I for the Woodbury Bag Loading Plant.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

Furball1

Explorer
Dec 11, 2005
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Nostalgiaitis

Probably no such ailment exists, but I think I have it. When I look at these post-cards of 100 years ago, I get carried back through my own imagination, to a much quieter and simpler time...where the loudest sound would be the whistle or bell of a steam locomotive...where everyone walked or rode a horse or a bike, the roads were dirt, elm trees dotted the landscape on shade dappled streets---whew. Things are so intensely complicated now...I need a walk in the woods.
 

piker56

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Jan 13, 2006
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Nostalgiatis

Talk about good memories, James U. posted a picture of Chatsworth Lake a few day's ago, and I got no work done after viewing it. I day dreamed about the many fine days I've spent on that lake. I think I need a canoe trip.